Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant has noticed one difference during games since MLB began cracking down on sticky stuff, and it has nothing to do with spin rates.
“I’ve just seen the umpires getting a little more exercise, running in to check all the pitchers,” Bryant joked Tuesday night. “It’s kind of funny.”
Fleet-footed umpires aside, it might be too early for hitters to notice any major differences. MLB’s enhanced enforcement of rules 3.01 and 6.02(c) and (d), which prohibit players from doctoring the baseball with foreign substances, only began Monday.
But, in any case, count Bryant among those in favor of baseball’s new normal.
“We were so stupid as hitters, saying, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s for control. We just don’t want them to hit us,’” Bryant added of pitchers using sticky stuff.
“That was such a cop-out.”
MLB determined after a two-month data-collection process this season foreign substances increase spin rate and movement on the baseball.
To Bryant’s point, MLB said in a memo evidence from that data-collection process found no correlation between player safety and using foreign substances.
“I love that things are going the other way,” Bryant added.
Not that all players share that sentiment.
Nationals ace Max Scherzer went viral Tuesday for expressing visible frustration while getting checked for foreign substances by umpires in Philadelphia.
The third time Scherzer was checked, in the fourth inning, this time at the request of Phillies manager Joe Girardi, he began unbuckling his pants right in the middle of the field. Girardi was ejected after a spat with Scherzer.
A’s reliever Sergio Romo followed Scherzer in beginning to undress right on the field.
Pitcher frustration is palpable. Bryant has a different perspective.
“I’m all for it. I'm all for keeping it out of the game,” Bryant said of sticky stuff.